Change the world


The impact novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which has been declared a global pandemic and a national disaster in South Africa, has created a highly volatile situation that has necessitated a great deal of flexibility in the way that work is conducted.

The number of confirmed cases in South Africa has now risen to 202, as at 20 March 2020, up from 150 yesterday. We are therefore in uncertain times and, as a country and Nelson Mandela University, our resolute focus is on containing the spread of the coronavirus as quickly as possible.

Given the volatility of the situation resulting in significant levels of uncertainty, we continue monitoring the developments in the COVID-19 national response, and altering academic plans accordingly.

As you know, all higher education institutions have gone into early recess from Wednesday, 18 March 2020, in accordance with the directive from Higher Education Minister, Dr Blade Nzimande.

While we encourage our students to revise their work during the recess and lecturers to connect with students to see how they are doing, there will be no online learning and teaching of new content until an assessment is made of the situation around the Easter period. It thus remains unclear exactly when and in what format academic activities will resume. What we are clear about is that we are readying ourselves to practice pedagogical flexibility. This means that when we resume we will deliver innovative learning, teaching and assessment in a variety of  staggered ways to offer learning and assessment opportunities so that students can achieve the learning outcomes of their modules. Our focus will be on enabling all students to achieve the learning outcomes of their modules, but these outcomes may be achieved by students following different routes (such as online, contact, and/or blended learning; flipped classed; winter schools; etc.) and at differing paces linked to individual circumstances.

We faced a similar seemingly impossible situation in 2016, where we were not able to access our campuses. Yet we completed the 2016 academic year and had a bumper graduation.

We are now called on to show the same resolute determination to complete the 2020 academic year. We know that when we stand and work together to do whatever is necessary for students to achieve their learning outcomes, the impossible becomes possible. As our academic completion plan evolves further during the recess period, we will communicate accordingly.

And remember, our primary focus as a country, and a University at the moment, is to curb the spread of the virus.

Prof Cheryl Foxcroft
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning and Teaching

Contact information
Prof Cheryl Foxcroft
Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Learning & Teaching
Tel: +27 41 504 2332